TWO AGAINST THE TIDE by Bruce Clements


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A clock with no hands, old people without death, an island with ""no risks, no limits, no hurry, no hope""--the decision, to choose life or eternal existence. Tom and Sharon are gently kidnapped by their Aunt Eve, and in an eerie Twilight Zone sequence where details are only slightly awry they feel more and more anxious. After this skillful, subtle building of suspense, a long philosophical letdown that doesn't make the necessary choice difficult enough: Why is life on the island flat? Because there's no change. Why are the children different? ""Unpredictability"" answer the old ones; ""It threatens our tranquility."" At first Tom and Sharon acquiesce, loving their Aunt Eve and the inventor of the life-preserving pill, Mr. Hill; then comes a month of tedium as they begin to take the pill, lose their spontaneity and potential for change. According to their characters, they make their choices--Tom through observation, Sharon through intuition--and direct, honest Aunt Eve drives them back to New York City. Once the situation is understood the story slows down to the pace of the island's life, leaving only a too-well-defined psychological tension, and the attractions of staying, outside of peace and immortality (not great temptations to a twelve-year-old) are unclear, tipping the scales unfairly. Fascination for some, too simple for many.

Pub Date: Sept. 15th, 1967
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux